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Pre-Season September

7-8 August 2018

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Ascot United 4 Ardley United 1
nathan minhas ascot united fcNathan Minhas (pictured) took his tally to five goals in two games as Ascot United comprehensively beat Ardley United on Tuesday. The ex-Maidenhead man was just too hot for the visitors to handle, who trailed four-nil at the break before bagging a second half consolation.

An opening day defeat and nearly-defeat for Ardley and Ascot respectively had left them searching for their first win of the season, and on a sultry evening at the Racecourse, a victory would be well-earned for either side.

Ascot made two changes to the starting line-up that had drawn at Bishops Cleeve on the opening day – Haworth and Hodges in for Price and Jean Claude Etienne - and as it transpired, last season’s Division 1 (West) Champions would be blown away by a devastating first half display. That said, after striking early the Yellamen were pegged back for long spells by Ardley, but once Ascot awoke from their slumber, Ardley had little answer for their scintillating frontline.

The home side took a fourth minute lead when Dan Price raced onto James Haworth’s through ball and rolled the ball past Christian Lawrence with aplomb. Ardley huffed, puffed and probed but never really threatened, and Minhas served notice of his intent when he nonchalantly rolled the ball onto the inside of the left hand post after 16 minutes, although sadly for him the ball arced across goal and out for a goal-kick on the opposite side.

That effort had capped a fine breakaway involving Ben Hodges and Trevor Mutero, although it was Haworth who turned provider once again in the 31st minute when his left-wing cross found Minhas, whose strength and honesty kept him on his feet before skipping around Lawrence and slotting home. Minhas saw another first-time effort saved by the feet of Lawrence and Price was denied by the busy visiting ‘keeper moments later, but Minhas added a third on 39 minutes when he outmuscled defender Mikey McKirnan before smashing home.

And, the hosts’ scoring and Minhas’ hat-trick was completed in first half injury time when Chris Ellis’ strong tackle and pass released Minhas, who rounded Lawrence to score.

Manager Jamie Tompkins made three changes early in a second half where standards slipped well below the first half. Harley Giles might have cut the deficit early-on when he dragged wide for Ardley from a narrow angle but Billy Gillett went one better in the 67th minute when he beat Lee Allen in a one-on-one and slotted into an empty net.

Ascot substitute Callum Willmott should have done better with a header from fellow substitute George Lock’s 82nd minute cross, Lock headed agonisingly wide and Willmott stuck a post in injury time, but Ascot couldn’t add to their tally in a barren second half. However, the home faithful know there is plenty in their arsenal to cause damage this season, and the next challenge lies in the form of Camberley Town as the FA Cup journey starts on Friday evening.

Ascot United: Allen, Carlisle, F Etienne (Stubbs 54’), Denton (Lock 59’), Bouwers, Ellis, Mutero, Hodges, Minhas (Willmott 54’), Price, Haworth. Subs unused: Gray, Walters

Flackwell Heath 1 Virginia Water 1
Waters made their Step 5 bow with a hard earned draw in an enthralling match that no side deserved to lose.

The home side, as expected, started the brighter and had a few chances that went just wide, or were saved by Matt Jones in the Waters goal. After riding the storm of the first quarter, VW gained in confidence and created a number of chances of their own, with Scott Jackson going close from a through ball by Steve Williams. Marc Lansdowne and Finn Evered also tested their keeper from some of many set pieces we forced, and the first half ended goalless with VW on top at that time.

It was important not to concede early in the second half, but sadly not to be, as a mix up in our box saw the ball prodded home by Charlie Mallin on 48 minutes. To the credit of Waters, we battled back superbly, with Adam McNamara, Scott Jackson and Steve Williams all going close.

Then on 60 minutes, after a period of sustained pressure, Scott crossed for the excellent Liam Whyte (on debut) to head home.

We kicked on, and with defences and keepers in top form, no side could get the winner and all three points, with Liam and Josh Guichard seeing goal bound efforts brilliantly saved by their keeper late on. Not wishing to single individuals out, worthy of note were the performances of Louis Sanders and Liam, but to be fair the whole team put in a terrific effort, with honours even on a good night with our hospitable hosts.

Royal Wootton Bassett 2 Fairford Town 1 (away view)
It was a game of two halves at the Gerard Buxton Sports Ground, with Fairford finishing on the losing side in a competitive encounter on Tuesday night.

TJ Bohane is put under pressure by Fairford's Robbie JamesThe hosts went into the game on the back of a big win on Saturday against Tuffley Rovers, whilst Fairford were looking to make amends after losing out in the dying embers of a determined performance against Wantage Town. Jody Bevan handed first starts in a Fairford shirt to Ben Lodge, against his former club, and midfielder Glenn Gittens against a revitalised Bassett side who had also had a busy summer on the recruitment front.

The home side made the dream start with Josh Shama finishing from close range after an effort from Brad Pagliaroli rebounded kindly off the bar. Fairford settled and before the half hour mark had a penalty shout turned down with Freddie Ward bundled over in the box. However it was the hosts who capitalised with a wonder strike from Dale Richards extending their lead. The ball sat up perfectly for the left-back who dispatched a super strike into the top corner.

Having gone in two goals down at the break, Fairford came out for the second half with a renewed purpose and found their feet with some controlled possession. Summer recruit Robbie James turned in a superb challenge before the hour to deny the hosts a third before another penalty appeal – this time for a clear handball inside the box – was waved away.

A double change for the visitors followed with Jack Beardsell and Dan Bailey off the bench in place of Freddie Ward and Callum Preece in the middle of the park. The visitors continued to push forward and the impressive James crashed a header against the crossbar with 22 minutes remaining as the Reds kept up their push to break the deadlock. The goal did arrive, with Ben Lodge netting his first for the club with a looping effort inside injury-time against his former club. No less than the visitors deserved, but too late against a well-drilled Bassett side.

For Fairford, it’s now an early break from the league this Saturday with an Emirates FA Cup tie at Hadley ahead of the visit of Abingdon United next Tuesday 14th August (7.45pm).

 
 
 
 
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